On Saturday, in the World Cup third-place play-off, Croatia beat Morocco 2-1. Mislav Orsic curled in the winning goal.
Josko Gvardiol put Croatia ahead with a header at the Khalifa International Stadium in the seventh minute. However, Morocco quickly tied the game when Achraf Dari scored a goal for his team.
Croatia won the bronze medal with Orsic’s great curling shot at the end of the first half. It is the 11th straight World Cup in which a European team has come third.
Zlatko Dalic, the coach of Croatia, said, “It’s a bronze medal, but for us, it’s like a gold medal.”
Walid Regragui, the coach of Morocco, said that his team had a lot to be proud of after becoming the first African team to reach the World Cup semifinals.
“It’s a tough loss, but I think it was fair,” Regragui said.
“We have a group of people who never gave up. We’ll remember many games and be better when we play again. Our country was united for a month, and everyone was happy.”
Before this World Cup, Morocco had never made it past the 16th round. In their first game in Qatar, they played hard against Croatia, who finished second last time.
The second game was nothing like the 0-0 draw in the group stage. Early on, Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou came perilously near placing the ball into his net.
Soon after, Croatia took the lead when Ivan Perisic headed Lovro Majer’s ball into the box back to a diving Gvardiol, who put his header into the corner.
But Morocco answered two minutes later when Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick hit Majer’s head and looped up, letting Dari head the ball past Dominik Livakovic.
After he dropped a shot from Luka Modric, Bounou did an excellent job of scooping the ball away from Marko Livaja as he closed in on the ball.
After Morocco’s 18-year-old debutant Bilal El Khannouss lost the ball deep in his half, Croatia went back on top before halftime when Orsic curled in a great shot off the post from the corner of the box.
Orsic came close again after the restart, but his shot hit Jawad El Yamiq and went wide off the post.
When Gvardiol fell inside the box, it looked like Sofyan Amrabat caught his foot, but there was no VAR review. It made Croatia very angry.
If Youssef En-Nesyri had been able to get past Livakovic, it could have changed the game. But Livakovic did a great job of spreading himself out to block the striker from close range.
Mateo Kovacic missed the goal when he had a chance to eliminate any doubt about the game. Morocco’s late penalty claim was denied, and En-header Nesyri’s just cut the plan, but the Atlas Lions couldn’t find a way to win after their historic run.